The Journal of cell biology

Src-like adaptor protein down-regulates T cell receptor (TCR)-CD3 expression by targeting TCRzeta for degradation.

PMID 16027224


Src-like adaptor protein (SLAP) down-regulates expression of the T cell receptor (TCR)-CD3 complex during a specific stage of thymocyte development when the TCR repertoire is selected. Consequently, SLAP-/- thymocytes display alterations in thymocyte development. Here, we have studied the mechanism of SLAP function. We demonstrate that SLAP-deficient thymocytes have increased TCRzeta chain expression as a result of a defect in TCRzeta degradation. Failure to degrade TCRzeta leads to an increased pool of fully assembled TCR-CD3 complexes that are capable of recycling back to the cell surface. We also provide evidence that SLAP functions in a pathway that requires the phosphorylated TCRzeta chain and the Src family kinase Lck, but not ZAP-70 (zeta-associated protein of 70 kD). These studies reveal a unique mechanism by which SLAP contributes to the regulation of TCR expression during a distinct stage of thymocyte development.